Since it is an issue of importance to many of you and I’m hearing about it a lot, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on a new Flames arena: What’s a good deal for Calgary? How do we get there?
Let’s just put this on the table; the Flames are great for Calgary. The team contributes to our identity and the vibrancy of our city and the Flames organization undeniably contributes to the city through its charitable foundation. In turn, Calgary is very good for the Flames; our fan support and customer base here is unquestionably loyal and the city has been a good partner.
At the end of the day, the city isn't in the business of being in business. It has a duty to taxpayers and to citizens. It would be negligent to take on risk to cover the interests of a private company. Of course, the Flames need to profit - and Calgary has proven itself as a good city in which to do business. The City shouldn't accept a bad deal for taxpayers where there's any likelihood of loss to its citizens.
The City does have a role to play in funding a portion of a new arena, but this should not be a blank cheque. The City must negotiate an agreement that is mutually beneficial for both parties that sees a return on investment that benefits all Calgarians, not just ticket holders. Development of a new arena needs to demonstrate public value but I think that is thevery least we can expect. Let's aim a little higher - let's make sure that our public dollars generate benefit that gets Calgarians excited about a new arena and accompanying infrastructure. I’m pretty sure people have some great ideas, so let’s find creative ways to get Calgarians involved in the vision, not just for the new arena but how we can achieve some public space that makes people even more proud to call Calgary home.
Negotiations can be transparent, but not every meeting can be public. Negotiating in the limelight is not likely to yield a good deal for the people of this city. Once we get everyone back to the table and negotiate a deal that sees the best benefit possible for Calgarians and for the team, terms can be public and you can evaluate how we did, ask tough questions, and choose to support your councillor or not based on how we did. I will welcome your opinion early and often to be sure that your considerations and concerns are understood as the process advances - not when the process is over.
I’m confident that once the election is over and our new council is elected, we will get back to negotiating in good faith and find a win-win for everyone.
The City of Calgary released this graphic on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 to compare the City of Calgary’s arena funding proposal to one released by the Calgary Flames - City of Calgary